"Summertime – and the living is easy" according to the words in that well-known song from Porgy and Bess. That may not be true for most of us, but it is true for many of the thirteen, fourteen and fifteen year old oboe and bassoon students.
It is also true that many of them become bored with their regular summer activities weeks before school begins in the fall. This is the ideal time for them to begin to learn the art of oboe and bassoon reed making – and it is an art and one that takes most double reed players months if not years to learn.
Over the years I have found that many teenagers become so busy by the time they reach sixteen that finding the time to learn reed making is next to impossible. What with school, homework, musical activities, music lessons and practicing, free time is virtually non-existent during the school year. In the summer most of them are either at music camp or working to save money for college. I have therefore often suggested to many of my younger customers and their parents that they start reed making lessons in their early teen years. Many teachers agree with me that this is the ideal time to start working on reeds and offer reed making lessons or classes to their students during summer vacations.
Parents who are not themselves double reed players sometimes fail to realize the amount of time it takes the normal student to learn to make reeds. Even the most proficient reed maker fails to get a dozen really good reeds from a dozen pieces of cane.
The very best purchased reed will change with the weather. Should this happen on the day of a concert, the player who cannot make reed adjustments will find himself with a serious problem. The oboist or bassoonist who is capable of making his own reed adjustments will find that he has a definite advantage over other instrumentalists who do not have this ability.